It looks like hackers have started to use social networking tools to keep in contact. share information and organise themselves. A new social networking site, house of hackers, has been formed and already has over 900 members (8th may 2008). Formed by the ethical hacker think tank GNU citizen, who’s recent published works include zero day exploits for quicktime on MS Vista, SNMP scans of the Internet and how to crack the BT home hub product. This does suggest, as we have known, both black and white hackers are becoming more organised, but is this a new phenomenon?

The tradition of organised groups within the hacking community goes back to when the word hacker was synonymous with exploring and creating new ways of doing things. The one of the first recorded groups was known as the 414’s which used technology computer equipment to ‘break’ into systems ranging from US research laboratories to hospitals. The ethical debate around the terms black, grey and white hackers is one which has been raging both internally within the community and externally for some years now. I will leave that for another day!

This new development using social networking technology and web 2.0 technology moves, quite conspicuously, the hacker community into a new era. Groups that normally would be siloed and quite insular now have the opportunity to share information and co-ordinate for both good and bad purposes, how this will evolve we will see over time.

This all may seem quite disconcerting but some of the most innovative people have been born out of the hacker community, in the more traditional sense of the word. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and more recently Larry Page, founder of Google have all made a immense impact the commercial world and have transformed society over a relatively short time period.

The challenge for the innovation platform is how do we harness the power of these communities to deliver innovative research which will benefit the UK and  maybe change the world in the same way that Gates and Jobs have?

Paul

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